Fuyuko: Boom! Hahahahaha! Me have bazooka, me kill demons! Boom! More demons go boom with Kalina Ann! Pretty….

Dante: O.o You are one crazy bitch. And aren't you supposed to start this story or something equally lame?

Fuyuko: Story? What story? I'm only here to kill demons. Disclaimer-Bot does all the real work around here.

Disclaimer-Bot: It's no use talking to her right now. Please just accept that she does not own Devil May Cry or any of the characters in the series, such as Dante or Lady. Capcom has full rights to them. And now, enjoy this rather demented fanfiction.

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Devil in the Cradle

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'He promised to help me get rid of the demons, even though he's part one himself, so where the heck is he?' Lady, once known as Mary Arkham and then as simply a devil hunter, was put out. She'd purposely told him to be here, outside his office, at seven o'clock, an hour before she knew they needed to leave because she'd been trying to prevent his habitual absentee-ism. It seemed like everytime they had a mission together, he'd be gone for another engagement or he'd show up late. It was probably one of his more infuriating qualities, besides that cocky attitude he carried around with his holstered guns and red trenchcoat.

'Honestly, what does that jerk take me for? It's not like demon-hunting is a job you can be late to, unless you don't care about civilian casualties. Stupid Dante. What a fuckup.'

Of course, she could just go on without him, she didn't need him for this job, she'd just invited him along, mostly because she didn't trust herself with the situation. Lady could handle the demons they'd be facing on her own, no sweat, duck soup, yadda yadda, but it was the cultists involved that bothered her. She hated those kinds of people, they were so much like him, her vile father, that she wasn't sure she could stop herself from blowing them up rather than handing them over to the proper authorities. They'd obviously sacrificed innocents, otherwise she wouldn't have gotten the private hire from the local chief of police.

Times like this, she wished she'd never met the half-demon, since it meant cutting pay, wasting time, and putting up with him. Sometimes, she just up and left, knowing it wasn't worth it to wait around, especially when it seemed he'd show his unapologetic hide smirking and calling her babe in slurred tones and smelling of cheap perfume and liquor. Dante really could be an ass sometimes, and she just didn't feel like taking that crap right now. Hoisting Kalina Ann back onto her shoulder, Lady stepped away from the double doors to Devil May Cry, never bothering to see if the proprietor was inside. She could handle this mission much better on her own anyways, cultists be damned.

Well, damned wasn't really the right way to think of it, since they probably already were, if you believed what so many religious fanatics did, that associating with witchcraft and the power of devils only led one way. Most hunters, like herself, had long since stopped believing that any higher power cared about this little mudball or its inhabitants enough to promise them anything for so called good behavior, and the only thing left was that people made decisions that were good and bad, and some people's decisions just had nastier, more hellish consequences that other people chose to cleanup. Now if only certain half-demons would have chosen not to be late, her life would be a whole lot happier right now. Or maybe not, considering he'd have chosen to talk and flirt and generally keep up his reputation as her walking headache.

Such was the life of Lady the devil hunter, unknown to the evening news it no doubt would have been a feature on. The only things that came close to documenting her lifestyle were tabloids, and the real demons they occasionally did find out about were too weird or gruesome for even those nutjobs to want to report about. Normal people didn't find the macabre interesting, and normal people made the world go round, even if they didn't know it.

And the freaks like her and Dante made sure that the world of normal people kept spinning, because it wouldn't do to let it stop for some psycho's whim. Or to let demons devour its normal people alive and screaming. Better to have some be bizarre and keep normal safe than to be normal and have everyone be food, that was the way hunters thought. Besides, most of them had vendettas against their own minds for not letting them forget or dismiss the abnormal things that came under the cloak of night, and the bizarre lives they led were a sufficient punishment for those minds. Forced to relieve every scream and drop of blood all hunters lost their minds after a while, and then the only thing awaiting them was eternal blackness.

'Speaking of eternal blackness, this has got to be the right address, since I seem to have prematurely entered that void.' This was not to say that she was dead, in fact she knew she was alive, since she could smell the rancid stench that could only be rotting flesh. However, a dark mist seemed to swirl overhead, an ominous and cliché signal of impending doom for all those under it. Unless you were carrying salvation in the form of a few hundred 9mm rounds, fifty .30-06mm rounds, about three dozen grenades, a dozen missiles lined with holy oil, five pistols, one rifle, a submachine gun, and five knives including Kalina Ann's grapple made of pure silver. Only a demon like the legendary dark knight could survive that kind of assault, and these run-of-the-mill cultists wouldn't have been able to call up anything close to that. She hoped not anyway.

Steeling herself and systematically checking over her weapons, Lady stepped through the heavy oak doors into the foyer of the enshrouded townhouse. Creepy fog never deterred a true devil hunter. Neither did the blood coated walls or the moans she could hear coming from a hall closet. Her red combat boots crunched slightly on the sandy flooring, a good sign to her that they'd only managed to call up a regular netherworld jailor, probably a Pride or Greed. Cautiously she slid up next to the closet door, clicking off the safety on her pistol, since the human in there was probably a cultist, and would jump her out of desperation if nothing else.

'And if they attack me, then I'm not sparing them, not even for a larger reward.' Holding grudges and prejudices might be bad, but it hadn't failed to keep her alive.

Toeing open the door, Lady found herself presented with a half-dead man in a navy business suit, now turning purple with the blood pouring out of his split open torso. She pushed the door to again, not wanting to give the man mercy, but not wanting to finish murdering him in such a cold-blooded way. It was fairly obvious he'd been part of the ritual, even if she had no idea what he'd summoned with the inscription on the bloody and torn parchment next to him. Time to see if he was the only survivor anyway.

Stepping slowly through the hallway leading to the back of the home, Lady's ears told her she wasn't walking on sand anymore, which meant that either she'd passed the area used to summon or that the demon was hiding its tracks well. She doubted it was dead, the townhouse still carried that odd odor of sulfur and death that she'd been told by Dante followed a lot of summoned demons. Those that jumped out of portals on their own were usually much trickier according to him, something to do with being the bigger and smarter variety. Personally, she'd yet to meet a smart demon, and she definitely didn't believe the king of idiots when he told her that even he and his twin were geniuses when compared to humans.

'Vergil, maybe, but Dante? Lord of the stupid? I doubt he's even on par with room temperature most of the time.' Snorting at the thought of Dante as a schoolboy, much less owning a doctorate, Lady entered what appeared to be a living room.

There was a grey leather couch, albeit a ripped in half one, more or less along one wall, two overly fancy Tiffany floor lamps on the sand and blood stained white shag carpet, one of which was broken off from it's post, and a TV. Apparently, even evil demon summoning cultists had time to be couch potatoes.

Thing was, the room was drenched in sand, and if she wasn't mistaken that was a Lust's mask hanging from the very sandy mantel. Well, really, it was speared over the mantel with something that looked like the broken post of the lamp. Which meant that someone, or something, had gotten there before her. And judging by the scene, it hadn't been entirely human either. Normal people didn't have the strength to break steel lamp posts.

Sighing to herself as she moved on, the dark-haired huntress began to wish she'd have brought Dante along. At least then she wouldn't be treading around like this, unsure if there was a bigger demon or not, and hating having to spend more time than necessary tracking her foe. If there was a bigger demon, the half-devil hunter would have spotted its energy immediately, and they could have gone on to looking for survivors uninterrupted or just left the cleanup to the police, gotten paid, and be taking a warm shower right now. Nix that thought. She could take a warm shower in her apartment, and he could do whatever it was he did after missions. Probably eat cold leftover pizza.

'One day, I'm going to tell him how gross that is, and I am going to make him eat a proper meal with me. I mean, not like a date at a fancy restaurant or anything, maybe just drag his ass to a half-decent family diner.' Sheeze, here she was pondering introducing real food to a rude, cocky, and sex-happy half-devil she usually avoided like tuberculosis, when she was supposed to be tracking a much worse devil. Why did he always mess up her life? Probably some sick posthumous joke of her father.

Returning her focus to the living room, the red-booted hunter noted that the Lust's mask had been forcibly ripped from its body before being pinned to the wall. Knowing how well they defended this part of their bodies as a vunerable point, it was unlikely that a human stripped the jailor of its mask. Possible, yes, but only if said human had practice sparring with the netherworld's minions. Which brought her no conclusions whatsoever, since she'd no idea how skilled the cultists here had been or if they had another otherworldly guardian serving them before this summoning. Her father, afterall, had been calling up servants for years before he had started trying to resurrect the tower.

'Like everything else in life, calling forth evil probably takes practice to be perfect.' Not that there was anything to be proud of for perfecting dark arts. Not in her opinion. Hell, even Dante's power-hungry twin brother had found such arts disgusting. Although it hadn't stopped him from using Arkham to reach his goals. Talk about a conflict of interests.

"Guess I'll be going into this blinder than I thought, since I don't even know what or who I'm tracking anymore." Muttering to herself, Lady readjusted the strap of Kalina Ann over her sweater-clad shoulders before exiting the trashed living room. Her typical school-girl gone barbarian outfit didn't cut it in New York City's winter weather, so she'd left for this morning's mission wearing a gray pullover sweater and stretch denim jeans. Not the height of fashion, but she wanted mobility, so the jeans had to stretch and the sweater had to fit close to her body.

With any luck, there'd only be a few cultists to round up and she wouldn't find herself staring down the jaws of a bigger devil. Because she'd never live it down if she had to actually call Dante as backup.

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Back at Devil May Cry, the aforementioned half-devil found himself just waking up from an unusually long slumber. Normally he'd have been up at six or so, even though he got in at two, but last night's trouble had been more costly. It hadn't looked like a tough devil, but Dante had found out the opposite after being on the receiving end of its power. Getting holes punched in his gut wasn't pleasant, no matter how many times he had to 'get used to it'.

Smacking dry lips and attempting to wet them with his equally dry and swollen tongue made the devil hunter forsake all else for his favorite respite in the kitchen. A certain young lady he knew probably would have accused him of looking for liquor at this point, and even feeling like the walking dead he cracked a smirk at that. Yeah, right, even he wasn't dumb enough to think beer would quench thirst like his.

'Nope, my only liquid savior is tomato juice. Not water. Not beer. And definitely not blood.' A scowl would have marred his face if it hadn't been obscured by the large bottle of tomato juice he was sucking greedily down. The last time he'd swallowed blood hadn't been of his own free will – 'As if I'd drink it like some cheap Hollywood vampire' – but she had been there when it was shoved down his throat, and she had been disgusted. Enough to shoot him in his perfect face at least five times. Stupid bitch, acting jumpy and violent and unfair like that when she knew damn well he hadn't done it on purpose, that he was a good devil, odd as that was. For the most part. He wouldn't have blamed her if she'd done that to him in a fit of jealousy over the pinup poster in his new office, but then, she'd have probably shot herself for having said fit.

'Can't understand why she denies that kind of truth when she admits to things sane people wouldn't, like demons existing. C'mon it's not a crime to have a little sex life, Lady.' Especially not if it was with a stylin' white-haired hunter such as himself. No biggie, really, not the way Dante was figuring it. After Temen-ni-gru, he'd agreed to help her fight off the demons invading their world as part of her vengeance, and that seemed to soften her up a little. Which was good, because he'd kinda hoped she'd be more than just a good lay for him one day. Dante wasn't fool enough to scoff at the benefits of having a partner in his business, and Lady, with her drive and negotiating skills was turning out to fit that position quite nicely. Plus, fighting demons together was common ground that pulled them closer in other avenues of interest, so the business relationship was bound to end up as something more over time. That was his plan anyway.

And it would probably have worked by now, after three years, if it hadn't been for her stubborn, die-hard attitudes about devils and the lesser demons. Smashing the empty glass juice bottle on the grimey, graying counter-top, the half-devil found himself still pissed and puzzled at that not-so-insignificant factor in his friendship to Lady. Not that he wanted her to start proclaiming her love for the evil things prowling the night, but why couldn't she make an exception for him? He was half-human too, and his mother's blood counted for way more to him than his father's did.

A slight growl under his breath as he proceeded to the back and the bathroom became a string of curses as he stopped jarringly in his tracks, realizing that he'd really screwed up this time. That his days with Lady might be numbered. Because he'd forgotten all about that mission she'd asked him to go along on today, and no lady took kindly to being stood up. Least of all that Lady.

'Well, fuck,' was the only thing the devil-hunter could think as he hurried back towards the bathroom for a quick shower. Maybe if he hurried, he'd still make it to the job site, and she wouldn't toss his assistance to the side like dog-shit. 'Except that I don't know where the job's at, or the informant, so I can't even call anyone. Damn. Just my damn lucky day, ain't it?' He banged open the door to the bathroom mercilessly, as if it was to blame for his sleeping late and missing out on mission. What he wouldn't give to kill last night's demon all over again…

Stripped naked, the pale hunter's icy blue eyes narrowed venomously at the thought of what one string of messed up events could cost him. If he was honest about it, he'd be able to handle losing a shot at anything more serious with Lady since she'd already refused him once. Funny, but he'd understood for once in his life the concept of bad timing when hitting on a girl after that incident and the look on her face when he'd advanced in the library. At the time, she'd still been a.) too upset with her own inability to stop her father and b.) getting over being beaten by a half-devil and made to realize how sick her prejudicial treatment of said half-devil had been, to want to flirt.

Because whether she liked it or not, knew it or not – 'Banking on not on this one, clever as the little Lady is' – she'd been flirting with him for some time since Temen-ni-gru, and there had been some chemistry then too, he knew it. Women may have intuition, but devils had a literal sixth sense for those things humans called chemistry, the emotions people felt about each other. Demons thrived and fed off of fear, but they knew the taste, smell, and even sight of those other human emotions they sensed too. And what Dante lapped up off of her was nothing that disgusted him like the acidic, bile-raising emotion that human fear was to him. No sir, it was something he'd found to be much better than that, much better even than the emotion that Lust's were named for eating up, something he was sure his father had enjoyed about his mother – because Eva had loved Sparda – and he loved tasting, smelling, sensing that Lady loved him. Even if she didn't know it.

Unfortunately for him, if he didn't get out of his luke-warm shower soon and head over to find her, he'd never get to have that thrill of emotion off her again, because he'd run the possibility of ruining their partnership altogether. Which would suck a whole lot more than her turning him down permanently as a potential date. He really could live with it if she 'dumped' him, since there were other fish in the sea, as the saying went, but he knew he'd miss the wacked out friendship they had to the point of getting pissed over losing it. And although he lost his temper a lot, he was rarely really pissed off, since it made his devil blood go wild, and it made him forget everything that was important to him, like the value of human life his mother had taught him, leaving him a violent homicidal machine…which made him too much like his cold, ruthless twin.

'And I like me.' Which meant he'd also like to keep being able to swap insults, flirt shamelessly, and keep his big macho ego in place with Lady. Even if she had seen a different kind of water dripping down his face than the last droplets of his shower, after he'd gotten back from the hellish tower. Devil May Cry, indeed. Big softie that he was inside, Dante sped butt-naked over to his room, sniffing potentially clean clothes from all over the room's expanse before grabbing a black turtle neck and his old wide-legged black leather pants. And undies. And his red 'pimp' coat, as she'd teased him once. And Rebellion. And Ebony and Ivory.

Pulling and holstering everything into place, the half-devil sped back out of his room, intending to search the hard way when the phone rang. Tempted as he was to just let it ring and rush out the door to rescue his reputation with Lady, Dante whacked the desk with his fist and caught the receiver up to his right ear.

"Devil May Cry, handling all your super-freaky and nasty as hell, pun intended, exterminations. What's the word?"

"The word is licorice. And this is the chief of police, I was told I could call your establishment about the cultist case. Is it, ah, finished yet? The young woman said it shouldn't be too long of a time before it was over. Or is there need of the cleanup crew she mentioned? Were there survivors or cultists that you captured? They'll need to be brought to the station if you don't mind. I can't send a car to do that."

"Whoa, there, buddy, slow down. First, I didn't say she could hand out my number for this, and second, no it isn't done, or she'd be here jumping all over my ass."

"Excuse me? I hardly find that appropriate for the situation, Mr., ah, Dan…Dante, sir. And what do you mean it isn't done? Was there a problem?"

"Shit, she gave you my name too? What the hell!" The half-devil ran a hand through his shaggy white hair, obviously harried by this news. What had that crazy woman been doing? Hell, if he really minded, but it wasn't her number yet! She didn't have the right. He really didn't have time to think about that right now though, time and a place for it later. "…No, no problem, just give me the address will ya? So then I can get over there and not have my ass handed to me out of a bazooka barrel."

"So you are the second hunter she mentioned then? I was beginning to won…well, not my department there. The address is…"

Dante let the receiver fall back to its cradle, coat swirling behind him as he barged out the doors to Devil May Cry scant seconds later. Thank God, or whoever, for motorcycles. He'd never felt more grateful for Lady's introduction of the machine to his life than now. When it might get him to her before she gave the partnership an early grave.

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Fuyuko: Finito for the first chapter. Dust like the demons, baby. And hopefully, I'll actually get through this story, since it should be short.

Dante: There's more of this crap?

Fuyuko: Well…not quite, since I write as I go…but there is more to the plot. I mean, look at the title, dummy.

Dante looks. Then he proceeds to mumble something unintelligent about "devils" and "babies" and "with her..?", before popping an anger vein and shooting at Fuyuko.

Fuyuko: Gah! You've got it all wrong! Misunderstanding! And you know you like it! Help me, Disclaimer-Bot!

Disclaimer-Bot: There is nothing to disclaim. However, I can ask readers to review, if it would not be too much trouble.